We blinked and 2019 is almost over. This year in retail, customers have cared more than ever, whether it be about the environment, their – and each-others’ – mental and physical health, or how they curate experiences. The following incorporates some of the most important retail trends 2019 threw at us.

Food-led retail

Food is the solution many retailers have turned to to solve problems such as: how do you increase dwell time? How do you create an experience? How do you create something multi-sensory? How do you increase ATV?

Look at the developments at every shopping mall across the world, and you will see that the redevelopment or creation of a new food hall, and adding more restaurants are on the agenda. A quick trip to Westfield London or Stratford will show you that.

Shopping malls are gradually morphing into new food-led formats like Box Park, which, having expanded to a handful of sites in London including Shoreditch, Wembley and Croydon, is now set to open 10-15 new sites across the UK which includes two new concepts: BoxOffice, a 100-150,000 sq. ft. food-hall-meets-leisure-space-meets-co-working-space , as well as BoxHall, a new food hall concept.

BoxOffice at BoxPark
BoxOffice by BoxPark. Courtesy of BoxPark.

Educate and entertain

Shops are learning and entertainment destinations. New shopping malls like American Dream, recently opened in the US, are heavily centred around leisure and entertainment anchors that provide a reason to shop instore, rather than online. As well as luxurious portfolio of retailers, American Dream also features a wave pool, theme park, indoor ski dome and ice rink.

American Dream Mall
American Dream. Courtesy of American Dream.

Meanwhile, in London, showrooming is in full swing, with brand new stores like Samsung KX, in London’s new-ish Coal Yards Drops, where it’s basically impossible to buy anything, but very easy to learn something new.

Samsung KX
Samsung KX, Coal Drops Yard. Courtesy of The Standard.

Alongside examples of emerging technology, the store also provides a healthy events schedule to create loyalty and position itself as an authoritative brand. Whether you want to get into esports or have a more connected kitchen, a trip to Samsung KX will provide inspiration.

Breadth of choice

This year has seen tenants in the retail mix diversify and specialise to meet the complex, niche lives of modern consumers. Wembley Park is an excellent case study.

Dream Ahead, Wembley Park.
Bread Ahead. Wembley Park. Courtesy of Hot Dinners.

Quintain, the land owners and leasing agents have brought a unique combination of tenants, including the new, beautiful Bread Ahead site, which features a café, restaurant and a bakery school, a specialist cycling shop, an independent home, fashion and lifestyle mall, called Wembley Park Market, and all the food choices you could ever want at Box Park Wembley, the company’s largest site at 20,000 sq. ft.


Placemaking is everywhere. Retail environments are spaces to dwell and enjoy time in alone or with others. As boundaries continue to blur between work and play, communal spaces, including shopping malls and town squares are becoming one and the same, simply diversified urban spaces. And this can have a significant impact on retail occupier retention and on creating authentic communities. Everybody wins.

Broadgate Circle.
Placemaking at Broadgate Circle. Courtesy of New London Developments.

Sustainability and packaging

Customers are only willing to be loyal to brands that line up with their own values, and one of those values is the reduction of an individual’s environmental footprint.

New retail concepts are rising up to meet this demand, while existing brands and retailers like Unilever and Morrisons are backward-engineering their business models in response to customer feedback.

Lush are a fantastic example of how to rethink an existing category, such as shampoo. Their extensive range of shampoo bars are plastic-free, which works to modern consumers’ consciences.

Bath bomb conveyor belt at Lush.
Lush Oxford St. bath bomb conveyor belt. Courtesy of The Sun.

Lush is also a leader in offering a retail experience that gives customers a legitimate reason to shop there, rather than online. This year, their Oxford Street store introduced a bath bomb conveyor belt that showcases upward of 106 products, which can then be gift-wrapped in eco-friendly knot wraps that are made from recycled bottles and organic cotton.

Bath bomb eco-friendly packaging
The bath bomb eco-friendly packaging. Courtesy of The Sun.

2020 is on the horizon and retail doesn’t sit still. We’re always on the hunt for emerging and radical trends in retail to introduce to our own clients’ design projects. Get in touch if you’d like to speak to us about your next retail endeavour.

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